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  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate March 25, 2019

    Big news out of Connecticut today, as a bill to legalize the adult-use and retail sale of marijuana has passed through a critical vote in the General Law Committee with a 10-8 majority. In addition to legalizing adult-use and establishing a regulated retail market, the bill also includes strong social justice language that incentivizes minority participation in the state’s marijuana market. It also establishes a commission that would be tasked with studying the impacts of provisions not already included in the legislation, such as homegrow and microbusinesses.

    Next up for the bill is a vote in the state legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 28th. Should it pass through committee and successfully pass a floor vote, the bill will go to the governor’s desk. Governor Lamont has been very vocal about his support for marijuana legalization in the state, frequently referring to reform as one of his administration’s top legislative priorities.

    If Connecticut successfully passes and enacts marijuana legalization into law, it would become the first state to pass a regulatory framework for the retail sale of marijuana through the state legislature, rather than as a ballot measure for popular vote.

    Major reform is within reach in Connecticut. If you’re a Connecticut resident, click here to send a message to your state lawmakers in urgent support of legalization!

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  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate March 20, 2019

    In some big news out of New Jersey, several marijuana reform bills have been voted out of their committees and are awaiting floor votes.

    Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497 have both passed out of their committees and are set to be voted on as early as Monday, March 25th. These bills would legalize the personal possession of one ounce or less of cannabis and would regulate and tax the adult-use and retail sale. Some highlights of this landmark legislation are-

    • Expedited expungement of past misdemeanor marijuana convictions
    • Taxing marijuana sales at three-percent, which will be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist
    • Incentives to promote socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry

    Governor Phil Murphy, one of the driving forces of marijuana legalization in the state since taking office in January, has already signaled his intent to sign a legalization bill once it gets to his desk. However, the margins in the New Jersey State Legislature are still very close, with a slight majority of the legislators being in favor of legalizing marijuana for adult-use in the state. With several state lawmakers still on the fence about legalization, input from residents of New Jersey is of paramount importance. Legalizing marijuana would result in dozens of positive impacts for New Jerseyans and cannot happen without the support of reform-minded residents who are committed to personal freedom in New Jersey.

    Are you a New Jersey resident? Click here to send a message to your legislators in support of legalizing marijuana in the Garden State.

     

    Other legislation, Senate Bill 3205 and Assembly Bill A4498 have both passed out of their committees and are awaiting scheduled votes. These bills would allow for the expedited expungement of certain marijuana-related convictions after marijuana legalization is signed into law in New Jersey. It reduces the wait time for expungement and expands the list of convictions eligible for expungement upon marijuana legalization in the state.

    Are you a New Jersey resident? Click here to send a message to your legislators in support of this effort.

     

    Separate legislation, Senate Bill S10 and Assembly Bill A10 have both passed out of their committees and are awaiting scheduled votes. These bills would expand the state’s medical marijuana program to allow for greater accessibility and protections for qualified patients. It increases the amount of medical cannabis a qualified patient is legally allowed to purchase and possess, protects patients from losing their jobs or custody of their children simply because of their status as a medical patient, and phases out retail sales taxes on medical marijuana to make the program more affordable for patients.

    Are you a New Jersey resident? Click here to send a message to your legislators in support of this effort.

     

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  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate March 18, 2019

    A.1617, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), has been re-introduced this legislative session. The bill would legalize the adult possession, use, and regulated sale of marijuana.

    Over the past twenty years, many New Yorkers have been negatively affected by the harms of prohibition in New York. With people of color accounting for nearly 85% of those arrested annually, the MRTA directs the benefits of taxing and regulating marijuana to these communities. Because structural racism is ingrained in marijuana prohibition, it’s important that the MRTA both ends marijuana prohibition and promotes racial justice.

    Significant steps are taken in the amended MRTA to ensure racial justice and a small business-friendly industry, including:

    • Creating a micro-licensing structure, similar to New York’s rapidly growing craft wine and beer industry, which allows small-scale production and sale plus delivery to reduce barriers to entry for people with less access to capital and traditional avenues of financing.
    • Establishing the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, which will invest in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war through job training, economic empowerment, and youth development programming.
    • Ensuring diversity in New York’s marijuana industry by removing barriers to access like capital requirements and building inclusivity by allowing licensing to people with prior drug convictions. Only people with business-related convictions (such as fraud or tax evasion) will be explicitly barred from receiving licenses.

    Our communities can’t wait. The decades of marijuana prohibition had created a stain on the fabric of our society, and urgent action is needed to begin to right the wrongs of the War on Drugs. Adult-use cannabis legalization must be passed in the state budget, and support for the MRTA goes a long way towards making that a reality. Freedom simply cannot wait any longer.

    Click here to send a message to your New York State Assemblymember in urgent support of this effort.

     

    We also encourage you to plug in with Empire State NORML. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their webpage HERE.

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  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate March 13, 2019

    In news that bodes well for the future of cannabis legalization in the state of New York, both chambers of the state legislature have included legalization language in their annual budget proposals.

    Both budget proposals also address the expedited expungement of certain marijuana-related convictions, implementing social equity programs in the state’s growing marijuana industry, and diverting tax money earned through the legal cannabis industry to benefit communities that have borne the brunt of the most brutal aspects of marijuana prohibition and the war on drugs in New York.

    Though Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal does not allow for the personal cultivation of marijuana plants, the NY General Assembly’s budget proposal does promote home cultivation upon the legalization of adult-use and retail sale of cannabis in the state. If home cultivation is included in final legislation and is signed into law by the governor, New York would help reinvigorate legislative support for the practice, which has waned considerably in other east coast states that are exploring legalizing cannabis for adult-use.

    The legal allowance of home cultivation in private residences is a core tenet of NORML’s Attributes of Adult Access Regulations. Read about home cultivation and our core tenets here.

    Though it remains to be seen if the Empire State will legalize cannabis for adult-use in 2019, we cannot let up in our fight for the personal freedoms of New Yorkers. As always, we need your help to make sensible marijuana reform a reality in New York.

    Click here to send a message to your state lawmakers in support of cannabis legalization in New York.

  • by Norm Kent, NORML Board of Directors December 15, 2018

    home cultivationWriting from Key West last week, where I addressed the 35thannual legal conference of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, I was fishing not only for Blue Marlin, but justice.

    Two years ago, Florida citizens voted for and passed a constitutional amendment allowing our residents to use marijuana medicinally.

    The law passed overwhelmingly, with nearly 72 percent of the vote. No recount was required.  In this hotly contested and partisan state, no candidate running for statewide office won with that much of a majority. Candidate “Cannabis” garnered more votes than every Tom, Dick, and Sally running for office.

    Two years later though, there are few, if any, dispensaries on your corner. Two years later, the city commissions are still passing moratoriums on them. They are negligently joined at the hip by irresponsible legislators failing to fulfill their legal duties. The will of the electorate is inexcusably and unjustifiably being denied.

    Governor-elect Ron DeSantis has honorably stated that the legislature has a duty and obligation to implement a regulatory scheme, which carries out the will of the people.

    While DeSantis also said he does not support legalization, he has committed himself publicly to seeing Florida citizens be allowed access to medical marijuana.

    The incoming governor can take the first step by directing his new Attorney General to stop fighting a legal battle in the courts designed to prevent actual cannabis, the flowered plant, to be sold at dispensaries. Under the guidelines authored by Florida’s legislature, you can only buy cannabis oil and edibles. Folks, this “no smoke” is a joke.

    Let’s be real. When you, me and nearly 72 percent of all voters cast your ballots to make medical marijuana available, we meant the flowered plant, not a stool sample. You voted to enact a constitutional amendment, which provided for medical marijuana to be reasonably accessible to citizens of our state. You are entitled to make your vote matter.

    Unfortunately, the state legislature failed to enact your directive. It fraudulently fashioned rules forbidding dispensary owners from selling actual cannabis. Instead of partnering with a new industry wisely, it has created obstacles foolishly.

    The licensees empowered to open dispensaries have paid the state millions of dollars to cultivate cannabis lawfully. They have purchased large tracts of land to initiate outdoor grows. They have acquired enormous warehouse bays to produce high-grade, hydroponically grown marijuana. They are getting screwed, too. They can’t sell it and we can’t buy it.

    We are all tired of having to buy cannabis illegally on street corners. We are sick of watching our friends stupidly go to jail for purchasing a product we are now allowing the state to collect money from. Let’s get our act together. Let’s demand a change.

    Marijuana initiatives are passing all over the country. States are proactively enacting them, not foolishly postponing them. Seven more states joined the fold in November.

    In Florida, attorney John Morgan, out of Orlando, has led the battle to medicalize marijuana. With groups like the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, People United for Medical Marijuana and Regulate Florida also championing this cause, the citizenry of our state has spoken powerfully for medical pot.

    It is sheer foolishness and remarkable stupidity for politicians to oppose what is clearly a green wave sweeping across America.  Polling now suggests 65 percent of all Americans want pot legalized. Across America, 32 states have now decriminalized, medicalized, or legalized pot.

    It has taken nearly half a century, but now more than half of America is on our side. We have come a long way. If you stand your ground though, and there abide, the world will eventually come around to you.

    Marijuana use never should have been criminalized, and cannabis consumers never should have become criminals. Pot always was and still is a simple herb with medicinal uses and recreational qualities. It was never an evil which would end the world. To fulfill their own political agendas, our leaders lied to us. Surprise.

    The war against pot has been a waste of national resources, destroying lives, jailing good people, and diluting valuable law enforcement resources. It has been almost 50 years since the one-time governor of Pennsylvania, Raymond Schaefer, a Republican, released a report recommending that the federal government decriminalize the personal use of marijuana.

    Today, even the former speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, another Republican, works in the cannabis industry marketing legal marijuana for private entrepreneurs.

    In the United States Congress, we must once and for all end the legal farce that permits cannabis to be listed as a Schedule 1 drug with “no accepted medical uses.” This regulation is why 18-year-old kids in 18 states across this country are still having to post bail for using pot.

    Reasonable access to medical marijuana is now the law of our state, and if our city commissioners and state legislators don’t enact ordinances to provide for it promptly, they are the ones who should be held accountable at the ballot box.

    The failure of our state to make medical cannabis easily accessible in 2018 has inspired a new initiative for 2020. The next ballot amendment will ask you to support statewide legalization. Until then, we have a right to mandate that the constitutional amendment of 2016 be implemented fairly.

    If you cannot acquire medicinal pot in our state today, the only ones who belong in jail are the legislators who are failing to carry out your directives, entered at voting booths across this state two years ago. Lock them up, not you.

    As for you, there is no doubt. If you are a patient, you should be able to go into a dispensary and acquire cannabis lawfully. We as a people have decreed it as our legal right.

    Fighting for legal marijuana has always been a civil rights cause, more now than ever. Your right. Your body. Your choice.  No one can or should be allowed to stand in your way. Stand up and let your voice and votes be heard from South Florida to Tallahassee.

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